Gunshots rang out through the streets of Chicago over the weekend, killing at least 11 people dead and wounding another 70, according to police.
In one the largest shootings, at least eight people were shot in the city’s South Side Gresham neighbourhood as several people, including a 14-year-old girl, were standing in a courtyard early Sunday morning, the Chicago Tribune reports.
Young children were caught up in the violence as a 13-year-old boy was shot twice in the right arm and an 11-year-old boy was shot in the leg in separate incidents, police said.
WATCH: Chicago police react to overnight shootings
Chicago Police Chief of Patrol Fred Waller blamed much of the weekend bloodshed on gang members during a Sunday press conference, describing the shootings as both random and targeted.
“They take advantage of that opportunity and they shoot into a crowd, no matter who they hit,” he said.
Waller said that despite the weekend’s violence, shootings in the city are down 30 per cent from 2017, and murders are down 25 per cent.
“I promise this city that we won’t be defeated, we won’t be overrun by that small group, that small element that is committing these reckless acts,” Waller told reporters. “We need more help from our federal partners and we are getting but we won’t be defeated.”
The spike in shootings overwhelmed paramedics and hospitals. More than 200 people had converged on Stroger Hospital at one point and Mount Sinai Hospital had to stop accepting new emergency cases for a while, according to multiple media reports.
“Over the past 24 hours, Stroger’s trauma unit received an unusually high volume of patients,” Stroger Hospital said in a statement.
“We are asking the families of trauma patients to limit visitation at this time to immediate family members only so staff may focus on patient care.”
Chicago’s gun violence drew the attention of President Donald Trump’s lawyer, ex-New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who tweeted Sunday, blaming Chicago’s longtime “Democratic rule” for the shootings and saying that former police superintendent Garry McCarthy could help reduce the murder rate.
Giuliani sent out three tweets praising Democratic mayoral candidate McCarthy, twice calling him “Jerry.”
“Chicago murders are direct result of one party Democratic rule for decades. Policing genius Jerry McCarthy can do for Chicago what I did for NYC. He was one of the architects of Compstat. Slashed homicides over 70%. Tens of thousands of lives saved,” Giuliani tweeted.
The Tribune, which tracks shooting statistics, reported that shootings in the city have actually declined, with 532 fewer shootings as of Aug. 1 than the same time in 2017.